Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hey, it's almost football season

August for Chicago sports is in the doldrums, with the Cubs fighting to finish above the hapless Astros. The only thing worth watching is the restarting of the inevitable Zambrano meltdown cycle of yelling, apologizing, anger management, vows to stop getting so angry, and everything building up again to the point where he crosses the line and attempts to wield Mike Fontenot like a weapon.

The odds of this graphic coming out again were approximately
equivalent to the odds of nineteenth century Parisians throwing
up the barricades. According to Ohio University's
Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions, the barricades went up in Paris's
east side no less than eight times between 1827 and 1848, the latter
revolution which targeted, one assumes from the painting on the
book cover on the right, a hated Bourbon Ministry to Prevent
People from Sporting Insane Hats

Meanwhile the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks have been dumping players left and right in order to adhere to the NHL's draconian salary cap restrictions, losing key supporting players such as goalie Antti Niemi, center John Madden, speed demon Kris Versteeg, and, most tragically, cement-mixter Dustin Byfulgien who will now be subjected to awkward Pierre McGuire interviews in Atlanta.

Thankfully, the Wildcat football team returns to practice this week, attempting to go for an unprecedented third bowl in a row and claw to the top of the soon-to-be obsolete eleven member Big Ten conference (I suppose we've lived long enough with the brain-jarring fiction that a conference called the Big Ten has more than ten teams, but I demand an indication that there are more teams in it next year-- anything less than the Enormous Ten is completely unacceptable and I recommend writing to your local congressperson to register your disgust at this potential outrage against pedantry).

In order to learn something about the actual Northwestern football team instead of a series of over-written run-on sentences that invariably end in a tired reference to mustaches or epaulets, why not check out Paul Myerberg's excellent in-depth preview where he has the Wildcats ranked #42 going into the season. You can tell that Myerberg has a greater insight than most national college football writers because the Wildcat preview is headed by a picture of Fitz in the middle of a furious fist pump.

Looking back to a golden era where politicians were not afraid of
fully shaking their fists in order to make a point, unlike the vastly
less satisfying thumb-button technique. On the left, Warren G.
Harding angrily asserts the etymological correctness of the word


The basketball team was poised for its first NCAA tournament run by adding Kevin Coble to a team that nearly made it to the promised land last season. Instead, Coble has decided not to rejoin the team after foot surgery knocked him out of what was supposed to be his senior season. Although this news is disappointing to those looking forward to watching Coble on the floor with Shurna, Thompson, and Crawford as well as national fans of ungainly yet devastatingly effective jump-shooting, the silver lining for regular readers of this site is that they will now be free of references to an ill-advised attempt to nickname Coble "The Mantis" followed by thousands of words in a run-on sentence in defiance of good writing, grammar, and respect for the English language as a means of communication, instead bandying about semi-colons and commas in the manner of a lion tamer ineffectually brandishing a stool and whip against a lion that cannot possibly be impressed by such a useless display of anti-lion weaponry, and also including asides in the middle of a sentence such as the fact that the praying mantis may be the only example of an animal where one part of the name can be replaced with a homophone ("preying") and the description of the animal doesn't suffer one iota for it (off the top of my head, I can't think of another one-- for example "bawled eagle" does not even really make sense except to someone really intent on finding homophones for animal names which I would hope would only be a pastime for a wrongfully imprisoned Count as a diversion from endless vengeance fantasies), although one might wonder: will the Mantis mantle get passed to similarly spindly forward Shurna who will spearhead the Wildcat attack and simultaneously allow for more seemingly unending geysers of unreadable nonsense?


Here's something completely unrelated: a study of the subgenre of music videos themed
around the premise "Arnold Schwarzenegger is at this concert and wielding weaponry"

Though the loss of Coble (and also Kyle Lowry, who transferred) will create a more challenging path to the tournament, the 'Cats still have the talented nucleus of Thompson, Shurna, and Crawford that nearly got them there last year and will hopefully remain based on making impossible yet timely 30-footers.


In other basketball news, the Bulls missed out on adding one of the big three free agents, but put together a good-looking team by acquiring Carlos Boozer, alliterative three point specialist Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Keith Thomas (not to be confused with former Bull malcontent Tim Thomas), and literal Young Turk Ömer Aşık to take a shot at the South Beach juggernaut in the Eastern Conference. Bulls fans will get to take a look at Aşık at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey at the end of this month. Of course, BYCTOM fully supports Turkish attempts to use mustaches to define political viewpoints. This 1998 BBC article alarmingly titled "Moustashes Under Threat" describes various styles of mustache that mark the wearer as a right-wing nationalist, old-fashioned leftist, intellectual, or someone "yearning for the Ottoman past." Chris Morris then drops the terrifying bomb that the Turkish government in 1998 had issued a troubling edict for civil servants that "specifies the exact length and shape of the bureaucratic brush - it has to be clipped straight, and it must end above the upper lip." Fortunately, this more recent article from Qantara is more reassuring, as correspondent Marielle Esvant reports on women attempting to break into Turkish politics:
To convey their message, the activists do not hesitate to burst onto political properties, brandishing moustaches and chanting the slogan 'Do you have to be a man to get in Parliament?'
I am in favor of any political movement or activity that encourages brandishing mustaches (in fact, until ten minutes ago, I was shamefully unaware that a mustache could actually be brandished and my life is now significantly richer) and hope that womens' political movements in other nations might co-opt, let's just reach for an example here from thin air, epaulets in order to shatter the glass ceiling.

In case the Bulls' season does not go as planned and ends in disappointment, Chicago basketball fans can be mollified by Jordan Challenge Mode in the NBA 2k11 videogame, where players get to humiliate digital versions of Craig Eloh, Clyde Drexler, and Greg Ostertag. The Jordan challenge is all well and good, but I would prefer if video game companies would focus on the more compelling elements of the 1990s Bulls.

Of course, for the post-Jordan era, we would all be playing Brad
Miller's Armpit Thunderdome


It's less than a month before the 'Cats kick off the season in Nashville to ruin the Commodores, so depress your fist buttons, throw up the barricades, and grow yourself an Istanbul-style mustache.

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